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On This Day in 1986: 'The Oprah Winfrey Show' is  Broadcast Nationally for the First Time

The first year earning of the show summed up to $125 million, of which Oprah got $30 million, instantly making her a millionaire at the age of 32. (Representative image: Shutterstock)

The first year earning of the show summed up to $125 million, of which Oprah got $30 million, instantly making her a millionaire at the age of 32. (Representative image: Shutterstock)

The show’s successful runtime made Oprah Winfrey a billionaire and one of the most powerful and influential women in the world.

September 8, 1986, marked the advent of a globally popular show that garnered an audience from more than 130 countries across the world. The Oprah Winfrey Show, on this day, went up on American screens for the very first time. The show’s successful runtime made Oprah Winfrey a billionaire and one of the most powerful and influential women in the world. It also coined a pop-culture term known as the ‘Oprah Effect.’

Oprah was born to a teenage mother in the rural parts of Kosciusko, Mississippi. A hardship-laden journey led her to Baltimore in 1976, where she hosted a talk show called ‘People are Talking.’ In addition to this, she also worked as a News Anchor in Nashville after completing her degree from Tennessee State University.

Her TV career started when she moved to Chicago to host a series of morning talk shows, including A.M. Chicago. What started as a low-rated morning show became the highest-rated under Oprah’s presence as the anchor. She even surpassed her biggest competitor in that time slot, Phil Donahue.

Roger Ebert, a movie critic, based out of Chicago, saw her potential and urged her to sign a syndication deal with King World.

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This deal gave birth to the highest-rated talk show in the history of television, the Oprah Winfrey Show. It went national on this day and appeared on 120 channels, with 10 million people watching the show. The first year earning of the show summed up to $125 million, of which Oprah got $30 million, instantly making her a millionaire at the age of 32. After this, there was no turning back for Oprah.

She soon gained rights for the show from ABC and started broadcasting it under her production house, Harpo (Oprah spelled backward). The show aired for a total of 25 years before ending in 2011. During its end, the Oprah Winfrey Show was being seen on 212 U.S stations, along with 134 other countries. Soon after the show’s culmination, Oprah started her own network called Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

Oprah has also tried her hand at acting, debuting for Steven Spielberg’s 1985 creation ‘The Color Purple.’ Oprah was nominated for Academy Awards for her role as Sofia. Under Harpo productions, Oprah also produced a TV miniseries, ‘The Women of Brewster Place,’ which also starred her.

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first published:September 08, 2021, 07:15 IST